As a native to San Francisco and San Mateo counties, Joe brings a lifetime of knowledge of the diverse cities and neighborhoods in the Peninsula to every transaction. When assisting a client with the sale of their property, we first tour it and compare its unique features and benefits with those of other recently sold or active homes to get a good sense of the level of demand we can expect. However, we don’t simply stop at reviewing comparable sales, we also network with other top agents in the area to learn about what is coming soon (our competition) and what type of motivation their buyers currently have. Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” This is the way we manage our listings and conduct our business.
OUR SELLERS VALUE PROPOSITION
We believe that selling a house is just like many other things in life – simple, but not easy. The process of listing a home on MLS, waiting for buyers to come and write offers, and then closing escrow seems like a piece of cake to many people. However, in real estate just like in any other industry, there’s a small percentage of people who truly separate themselves and achieve results for their clients. We feel that the value we bring to the table is in our commitment to improving our skills and our business every day. We seek first to learn about our clients goals and why they want to sell, and we put them in a position to succeed.
We begin with a walk through of your property with our interior designer and handyman to create a punch list of recommended improvements that will bring the highest value to the property. We have a team of contractors that will provide quality service and preferred pricing due to the volume of work they receive from us. Depending on the level of involvement you would like us to have, we can either manage all of the contractors and handyman or simply give you their names and contact info – it’s up to you. Because our team specializes in working with trust and probate sales where oftentimes sellers prefer not to be involved in preparations, we effectively manage and coordinate with all vendors and contractors to ensure a quick and smooth process that brings the property to prime selling condition.
Our team spares no expense in ensuring that we reach every potential buyer who is looking for a home in your area. We utilize professional photography (including aerial shots and 3D virtual tours), custom high end brochures, a property specific domain and website (www.youraddress.com), multiple listing services in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, real estate websites such as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc., social media advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc., a unique international marketing campaign, strategic open houses that are designed to create a bidding war, and much more.
The importance of effective negotiating skills cannot be overstated. When we’re dealing with average sales prices in excess of $1,000,000, and some as high as tens of millions of dollars, it is imperative that you have someone on your side who will fight for every last dollar of your hard earned equity, and ensure that you have the leverage at all times during the escrow period. Having read countless books and taken many seminars and workshops to sharpen his skills in negotiation, coupled with his vast experience in the real estate market, and our exceptional legal team who we consult with regularly, Joe’s negotiation skills are unmatched in the San Francisco / San Mateo real estate market.
the home selling process
Whether you are selling your home because you are looking to downsize, upsize, or simply relocating to another area, it’s important to have an action plan in place to ensure you achieve your goals. For your convenience, we have prepared this guide which will give you a brief overview of the process for selling your home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
More likely than not, you already know at least a few people who are licensed real estate agents. It’s important to understand, however, that just because a person is licensed, doesn’t mean that they are able to effectively sell your home. It’s important that you interview at least 2-3 realtors to ensure you are making the right decision. As with any profession, there’s a small number of individuals who truly excel at what they do, so it’s no surprise that the top 10% of realtors handle over 80% of the sales in a given area. When interviewing agents you want to take into account the following factors:
How many sales has this agent handled in your area and in your price range. Are they predominantly a listing agent or do they mostly work with buyers. Are they a solo agent or do they have a team of specialized experts? What is the average sales price of their listings? Average days on market? Sales price to list price ratio?
Home Preparation Assistance
Will this agent be involved in preparing your home for sale? Coordinating with contractors, helping to prepare disclosures, etc. Providing complementary services that you may otherwise have to pay for yourself?
How much money are they prepared to spend on marketing your home? How far will each dollar go? Do they have a detailed, step-by-step plan they can show you? Do they have examples of previous marketing material to highlight the quality?
What is their plan for accepting offers? Are they prepared to explain different scenarios and how they would make their recommendations? What type of training courses have they taken? Being prepared is key. Make sure you write down a list of questions and have it ready for when you interview the agents so that you can truly compare apples to apples and make the best decision for you and your family.
Many homeowners and agents get caught in the trap of thinking, “It’s a hot seller’s market right now so we don’t have to do any work to the house, people will buy it as is.” This logic is detrimental to a homeowner who’s looking to maximize their sale price. Buyers tend to amplify the physical and emotional costs of repairs or upgrades. Resurfacing and staining a hardwood floor may cost you $3,000, but a buyer can see that same issue as a $25,000 total floor replacement as well as a lack of initial enjoyment of the property as the repairs are made. These distractions can amount to deductions in the final offer a buyer is willing to make. Secondarily, these issues can eliminate buyers who are not handy, or are simply looking for a move-in ready home.
With that being said, you also don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to bring your home to a condition that will cause it to sell for the highest possible price. Sometimes all a home needs is a fresh coat of paint, some minor repairs to doors, windows, drawers, etc. and a deep cleaning. It just depends on the house. It’s important to remember that you want your house to look as appealing as possible to the greatest number of potential buyers, that means choosing neutral colors, removing any personal belongings or family pictures, and staging the house in a way that causes the buyer to really envision themselves living in the property.
Our local market is unique in the sense that most of the time, sellers provide disclosures and inspections to prospective buyer’s beforehand in a document referred to as the disclosure package. The reason we fill out these documents is to provide detailed information about what you as the seller know about the property and have done to the property since you’ve owned it to reduce your liability as much as possible and to encourage stronger offers with lower contingency periods. A disclosure package in our area usually contains the following:
Seller Questionnaires and Disclosures
The seller answers questions in writing in regards to any work that has been done to the property, whether that work was done with permits or not, if there’s been a death on the property recently, have there been any homeowners insurance claims, are there noisy neighbors, etc. Sellers are required to disclose anything of material significance to a buyer.
General Home Inspection Report
The home inspection is done by a licensed professional and they inspect the entire property. They look at the foundation, electrical system, plumbing system, roof, appliances, heating system, air conditioning, system, etc. The inspector will make recommendations for repairs or replacements to any issues they identify. However, since often they are not specialists, they will make a note on the report for interested parties to contact a professional who specializes in a certain field, like if they find cracks in the foundation that require further inspection, for example. This report usually will not provide cost estimates for recommended repairs. The report itself costs between $400 and $1,000, depending on the size of the home.
Pest Inspection Report
A pest inspection, sometimes referred to as a termite inspection, is inspecting for wood damage on the property caused by termite infestation, water damage, dry rot, etc. The report describes the damage as either Section 1 or Section 2 issues. Section 1 issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later. These include active termite infestations, or dry rot damage to the wood structure that needs to be repaired. Section 2 issues are items that are deemed likely to lead to termite infestation or water damage but no evidence of such was found. An example of this would be missing grout between the kitchen sink and counter that could lead to leaks in the future.
Unlike the property inspection, pest inspections will often include cost estimates for repairs. These reports can be anywhere from $300-$700 depending on the size of the house.
Preliminary Title Report
Issued by a Title Company, this document contains the legal description of the property, property taxes owed, mortgage liens, easements, CC&R’s (in case of condo or PUD), and other potential restrictions. It’s important to review this document in detail as it may uncover larger issues you wouldn’t have otherwise known existed.
Homeowners Association (HOA) Documents
If the property is located in a condominium/townhouse complex or a similar community, there will be HOA documents to provide to the buyer. The HOA documents will usually include the CC&R’s (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions), bylaws of the community, financial reports (profit & loss statement, balance sheet, amount of reserves, etc.), and past meeting minutes.
In most cases in our area the listing price is more of a marketing tool than a realistic reflection of the market value of the home. The reason for this is that many times we adopt a strategy of listing a property 5-10% lower than we believe it should sell for to bring in buyers from multiple price ranges to see your home at the same time.
To choose a list price we first begin by reviewing recent sales in the neighborhood of comparable properties that are similar in size, bed/bath count, and characteristics. Clearly, this is difficult to do in an area such as ours where homes are so diverse, so we have to look at homes within the same neighborhood which is different, and also look at recent sales of homes that are similar but in surrounding neighborhoods. Of course we have to take into account the differences in quality of schools, type of construction, and dozens of other factors that could affect the value.
Next, we network with other agents to find out about upcoming listings (our competition), and learn about their buyer’s needs and levels of motivation. The reason we take this step is to ensure that we are prepared for any potential changes coming in the market so that we don’t price too high or too low.
Once the home is ready for showing, list price has been chosen, and disclosures and inspections are complete the property is ready to go live on the market. Photography and marketing materials should be ordered and the home will be listed into the Multiple Listing Service and a marketing campaign will be launched. Our goal is to get your home in front of every potential buyer looking in the area in preparation for our first open house. The more people we can get into see the house in a short time frame, the better for you as the seller. This will create a feeling of high demand among buyers which will lead to higher offers.
Usually our team will set an offer date within the first two weeks of being on the market. Our goal is to get multiple offers to give us the leverage to negotiate. But at the end of the day, all it takes is just one offer to get your home sold for the price you want. When offers come in, our team will look through the contracts with a fine tooth comb and ensure that the terms are favorable to you. If there is something that needs to be changed, we will usually submit a counter offer to change those details and then get into contract.
Once you have accepted an offer and the contract has been ratified, we begin the escrow period. During this time, the buyer will conduct any additional inspections if they choose to, and they will be working with their lender to complete the financing of their loan. As your agent, we will ensure that everything is moving along according to schedule and inspections, appraisal, and loan contingencies are removed are in a timely fashion. It is during this period that issues may potentially arise with the buyer’s financing or additional discoveries through inspections. However, it is our goal to qualify the buyer adequately and present inspections and disclosures beforehand to ensure a smooth and problem free escrow period.
About a week before the scheduled close of escrow, the escrow officer will arrange for all parties to sign the closing documents. You can either come into the title company’s office or they can send out a mobile notary to you. Once the title company receives final loan documents from the lender and all parties have signed, the escrow officer will send the documents to the county recorded, escrow will officially be closed, and the sale will be on record. After the transaction is completed, our team will still be here to assist you with this new change in your life.